Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. (Psalm 147:1. NRSV).
To this day there is no greater medium for the Holy Spirit to move our hearts like music does. Words spoken or written can move the heart in many ways. Music on the other hand, moves the heart because even when words are not part of the music the heart is displaced from where ever it was to a completely new height. There is the old saying, “Music calms the savage beast.” St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The one who sings, prays twice.”
The prayerful song of the Church has been singing since before and after Christ ascended. The heart of the Daily Office for St. Benedict is the chanting of the Psalms. Thomas Merton explains why this is so important when he wrote,
The Psalms, then, are not merely ancient poems which the Church fancifully adapts to her own liturgical uses. Everything in them is charged with vital urgency by virtue of the fact that they are full of Christ. Either they speak directly of the Redeemer Himself in His sufferings, His kingship, His priesthood: or else they narrate the trials and progress of the Mystical Christ, the Church, His people (Bread in the Wilderness, p.110).
Singing is an open door to contemplative prayer. Singing and music unlocks the air tight locked doors of our hearts; so that we can listen to the gentle, but irresistible voice of the Spirit calling us into a deeper relationship with God in the great mystery of love.
What a way to keep watch!
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB